Healthy Living Series
Your thyroid is a small, butterfly-shaped gland in the front of your neck. It plays an important role in making hormones that control the way the body uses energy. These hormones affect nearly every organ in your body and control many of your body’s most important functions. For example, they affect your breathing, heart rate, weight, digestion, and moods.
Thyroid dysfunction is a general term for a medical condition that keeps your thyroid from making the right amount of hormones. Thyroid disease is very common, with an estimated 20 million people in the United States having some type of thyroid disorder. The thyroid gland plays an important role in the readjustment of the hormones that occurs with aging. With the advancement of age, the thyroid gland may develop gradual atrophy with fibrosis. Changes in thyroid hormone production, metabolism and action occur during the aging processes.
What are some of the warning signs for thyroid dysfunction for older adults? Characteristic symptoms may include fatigue, weight gain, cold intolerance, hoarseness, constipation, and myalgias. Neurologic symptoms may include ataxia, depression, and mental status changes ranging from mild confusion to overt dementia. Older adults often experience comorbidities that may complicate the correct diagnosis of thyroid disease, the clinical consequences, and the approach to treatment. In addition, use of certain medications commonly used by older adults may interfere with thyroid function tests.
Diet and lifestyle changes may help in managing thyroid-related conditions. Individuals with thyroid disorders often feel sluggish and tired. Regular physical activity boosts energy, facilitates weight loss, reduces joint and muscle pain. Thyroid function is dependent on iodine. Intake of adequate iodine helps in proper thyroid gland regulation. Iodized salt, seafood like fish, shrimps, tuna, seaweed and dairy products like milk, yogurt, and cheese are good sources of iodine. Aim for a diet that is rich in vegetables, fruits, whole grains and lean proteins (beans and fish). It is vital to reduce sugar and saturated fats. The immune system is affected by stress. Look for ways to relax every day. Activities like yoga and meditation can help to reduce stress. Aim for seven to eight hours of sleep every night.
How can Select Wellness and Therapy Professionals Help?
Thyroid dysfunction can hinder work, social life and family life. Seeking professional advice to analyze your unique situation; can often result in simple solutions. Your Select Wellness and Rehab team can identify lifestyle changes that facilitate physical activity and wellness. Your Select Wellness and Rehab team can provide practical information and resources to assist in health promotion such as wellness and increasing physical activity in your community.
If you are interested in additional information, please contact Kala S, Director of Campus Life, and she will colladorate with you and our in-house Select Rehabilitation Wellness professional and/or Physical, Occupational and Speech therapist team.